2014 NFL Draft: Arizona Cardinals Day 2 notes and facts

Chris Chambers

The Arizona Cardinals made three selections on Friday in the NFL Draft. They got Notre Dame tight end Troy Niklas, North Carolina defensive end Kareem Martin and Pittsburg State receiver John Brown. 

Here are some facts about the picks.

A TIGHT END IN ROUND TWO

With the 52nd pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Cardinals selected Notre Dame TE TROY NIKLAS. The fourth TE selected in the draft, Niklas was also the third Notre Dame player taken in 2014.

Taken in the second round, Niklas is the highest drafted TE for the Cardinals since the team selected Auburn’s Walter Reeves with the 40th selection in 1989.

 Niklas was a teammate of Cardinals WR Michael Floyd for one season (2011) at Notre Dame, but did not play on the same side of the ball. Niklas played his lone season at outside linebacker that year.

NIKLAS AND THE FIGHTING IRISH

Niklas entered Notre Dame in 2011 as an outside linebacker before switching sides of the ball to tight end prior to his sophomore season in 2012. He went on to start seven of the team’s 13 games as a sophomore, posting 75 yards on five receptions and a TD.

 As a junior in 2013, he was a Mackey Award semi-finalist (nation’s top TE) and one of four offensive players to start every game for the Irish, finishing the season with 32 receptions for 498 yards and five TDs. Niklas grabbed an impressive 61.5 percent of 52 passes targeted to him while also being widely considered among the best blocking TEs in the nation. 

During his two seasons at TE, Niklas registered 76 knockdown blocks, 21 downfield blocks and six blocks that resulted directly in TDs.

Niklas Notre Dame Receiving Stats

Receiving Statistics    2012    2013            

Receptions                      5       32                

Receiving Yards            75      498              

Touchdowns                 1        5

Longest Reception       30      66

While at outside linebacker as a freshman, he saw action in 12 games with one start and posted 20 total tackles, including eight solo tackles. 

KEEPING TRADITION ALIVE

Dating back to 2006, Niklas becomes the fifth Notre Dame TE selected in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft, a group that also includes current Cardinals TE John Carlson.

Notre Dame TEs Taken in First Two Rounds (2006-14)

Year     Player                          Rnd (Overall)   Team

2014    Troy Niklas                 2 (52nd)              Arizona

2013    Tyler Eifert                  1 (21st)               Cincinnati

2011    Kyle Rudolph             2 (42nd)              Minnesota

2008    John Carlson             2 (38th)               Seattle

2006    Anthony Fasano         2 (53rd)              Dallas

THE FAMILY BUSINESS

Niklas’ uncle is Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, the 19-year NFL vet and 14-time Pro Bowler who was selected in the first round (9th overall) of the 1983 draft by the Houston Oilers. His cousin (Bruce’s son), Jake Matthews, is the two-time All-American offensive tackle from Texas A&M who was drafted by the Falcons in the first round (6th overall) in the 2014 NFL Draft. His other cousin (Jake’s oldest brother), Kevin, was also an offensive lineman for Texas A&M and although he was not drafted coming out of college in 2010, he suited up for both Tennessee and Washington the last three seasons.

RELIABLE HANDS

During his senior season at Notre Dame, 24 of his catches produced first downs, including six third down conversions and another on fourth-down.

 Niklas was a big factor in the Fighting Irish producing big plays. He had 18 catches for at least 10 yards, including 10 for 20 yards or longer. 

CARDS PICK UP MARTIN WITH FIRST PICK IN ROUND THREE

With the 84th overall selection, Arizona picked North Carolina DE KAREEM MARTIN, the second North Carolina player drafted in 2014 and the 16th Tar Heel player ever selected by the Cardinals in the NFL Draft. Martin was a teammate of Cardinals 2013 first round draft pick (7th overall) G Jonathan Cooper from 2010 through 2012 at North Carolina.

Taken by Arizona in the third round, Martin becomes the fifth North Carolina defensive lineman to be selected in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft over the last four years.

North Carolina D-Linemen Drafted in First Three Rounds (2011-14)

 

Year    Player                           Rnd (Overall)   Team

2014    DE Kareem Martin        3 (84th)              Arizona

2013    DT Sylvester Williams     1 (28th)               Denver

2012    DE Quinton Coples       1 (16th)               NY Jets

2011    DE Robert Quinn            1 (14th)               St. Louis

            DT Marvin Austin           2 (52nd)               NY Giants

Martin became the first defensive lineman taken in the NFL Draft by the Cardinals since 2011 and the first defensive lineman taken in the first three rounds since Dan Williams (26th overall) in 2010.

PROTECTING THE WEAK SIDE

Martin started 41 of 49 games during his four-year career at North Carolina, primarily as the weak side defensive end recording 178 tackles (92 solo) and 19.5 sacks for 132 yards and 45.5 stops for loss.

During his collegiate career, he recorded 13 passes defensed, forced four fumbles and added four fumble recoveries.

With an impressive senior season, Martin’s 21.5 stops-for-loss ranked 16th on the ACC season-record list and is sixth on North Carolina’s annual chart.  His 11.5 sacks as a senior positioned him fourth on the school’s list.

Martin Career Statistics

 

Statistics                      2010     2011     2012     2013

Tackles                         16         40         40         82          

Solo Tackles                 7          20         19        46

Assisted Tackles           9           20         21       36

Tackles for Loss           1.5        7.0        15.5    21.5

Sacks                                0.0        4.0         4.0     11.5       

CARDS TAKE BROWN FROM PITTSBURG STATE

With the their second pick of the third round – the 91st overall selection which was acquired from the New Orleans Saints in the first round trade – the Cardinals selected Pittsburg State WR JOHN BROWN. He becomes the second Pittsburg State player ever selected by the Cardinals, joining RB Ronald Moore, who was taken in the third round (87th overall) by the Cardinals in 1993.

Prior to Brown’s selection on Friday, Moore was the last Pittsburg State player selected in the NFL Draft. Brown became the sixth Gorilla player selected in the draft all-time.

Pittsburg State is a Division II school located in Pittsburg, Kansas. The school’s football team has been around since 1908.

At the 2014 NFL Combine, Brown ran the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds, which ranked as the third-fastest time of any player at the event behind WR Brandin Cooks (4.33) and RB Dri Archer (4.26).

For his career at Pittsburg State, Brown accumulated 6,244 all-purpose yards and 45 TDs. He totaled 185 receptions for 3,387 yards and 34 TDs, 48 rushing attempts for 394 yards and six TDs, 78 punt returns for 1,063 yards and three TDs, and 52 kickoff returns for 1,400 yards and two TDs.

Brown began his collegiate career playing one season at Mars Hill College (2008) before transferring to Coffeyville Community College where he redshirted in 2010 before transferring to Pittsburg State.

MAN OF MANY ACCOLADES

Brown was a three-time Associated Press Little All-American as an all-purpose player. Below is a look at the accolades he accumulated while at Pittsburg State:

  • 2013 MIAA Special Teams Player of the Year
  • 2013 Associated Press second-team Little All-American All-Purpose player
  • 2013 First-team All-MIAA kick returner and wide receiver
  • 2012 Associated Press First-team Little All-American All-Purpose player
  • 2012 First-team All-MIAA kick returner and wide receiver
  • 2011 Associated Press second-team Little All-American All-Purpose player
  • 2011 First-team All-MIAA kick returner and second-team wide receiver

REACHING OUTSIDE DIVISION I-A

Brown becomes the 13th player the Cardinals have selected from schools outside of Division I-A dating back to 2002, including 10 in the last eight drafts (2007-14). Arizona has now selected at least one player from a school outside of Division I-A in seven of the last eight drafts.

Player                          Pos     Yr Drafted          Round (Pick)                College

John Brown                 WR      2014                 3rd (91st)             Pittsburg State

Earl Watford                  G          2013                 4th (116th)            James Madison

Justin Bethel                S          2012                 6th (177th)            Presbyterian

Andre Roberts             WR      2010                 3rd (88th)             The Citadel

John Skelton                QB      2010                 5th (155th)            Fordham

Greg Toler                     CB        2009                 4th (131st)            Saint Paul’s (VA) College

D. Rodgers-Cromartie    CB    2008                 1st (16th)             Tennessee St

Tim Hightower                   RB        2008             5th (149th)            Richmond

Brandon Keith               T          2008                 7th (225th)            Northern Iowa

Ben Patrick                   TE        2007                 7th (215th)            Delaware

LeRon McCoy               WR      2005                 7th (226th)            Indiana (PA)   

Reggie Wells    G          2003                 6th (177th)            Clarion (PA)

Josh McCown   QB      2002                 3rd (81st)             Sam Houston St.

ARIANS PRAISES HIS NEW RECEIVER

“He’s kind of a combination, having had Antonio Brown in Pittsburgh and T.Y. Hilton the last two years; he’s kind of a combination of those two types of guys. Very explosive once he touches the ball, but fearless going over the middle. If he’s on the outside, you better give him a cushion, and he’s going to take the top off at any point in time.”

A LOOK AT DAY THREE

With the first three rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft complete, the Cardinals enter the final day with three picks over the final four rounds. Arizona enters the day without a pick in the seventh round after dealing that selection to the Oakland Raiders last year in the trade for QB Carson Palmer. Below are Arizona’s scheduled selections for Saturday:

Round  Round #           Overall #

4          20th                   120th

5          20th                   160th

6          20th                    196th

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